Abstract

Prosthetic foot selection for individuals with lower limb amputation relies primarily on clinician judgment. The prosthesis user rarely has an opportunity to provide experiential input into the decision by trying different feet. A prosthetic foot emulator (PFE) is a robotic prosthetic foot that could facilitate prosthesis users' ability to trial feet with different mechanical characteristics. Here, we introduce a procedure by which a robotic PFE is configured to emulate the sagittal plane effective ankle stiffness of a range of commercial prosthetic forefeet. Mechanical testing was used to collect data on five types of commercial prosthetic feet across a range of foot sizes and intended user body weights. Emulated forefoot profiles were parameterized using Bezier curve fitting on ankle torque-angle data. Mechanical testing was repeated with the PFE, across a subset of emulated foot conditions, to assess the accuracy of the emulation. Linear mixed-effects regression and Bland-Altman Limits of Agreement analyses were used to compare emulated and commercial ankle torque-angle data. Effective ankle stiffness of the emulated feet was significantly associated with the corresponding commercial prosthetic feet (p<.001). On average, the emulated forefeet reproduced the effective ankle stiffness of corresponding commercial feet within 1%. Furthermore, differences were independent of prosthetic foot type, foot size, or user body weight. These findings suggest a PFE could be an effective tool for emulating commercial prosthetic feet, enabling prosthesis users to quickly trial different feet and provide experiential input as part of a prosthetic foot prescription.

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